Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder delivers his Christmas message

While the rest of his family celebrate Christmas, Chris Wilder’s mind will be elsewhere.

Friday, 25th December 2020, 12:01 pm

The Sheffield United manager will go through the motions - hand out some presents, unwrap his own gifts and enjoy a few drinks with those closest to him - before turning to the most pressing item on his festive agenda; trying to pick the right team for tomorrow’s visit of Everton.

“It won’t be the happiest of Christmases for a number of different reasons,” Wilder said. “What with results and everything else that’s going on in the world. So hopefully, for every connected with our club, we can do something a little bit special over this period. That’s what I’m basically going to be thinking about - what we can do to get what I think the lads have deserved.”

“As I’m sure you can imagine, I think about what we can do, how we can improve and what we can make better all the time,” Wilder, a lifelong supporter and former United player himself, continued. “It’s there all the time, 24/7. No matter what you’re doing, it’s always there - trying to work out ways of getting what we want.”

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder: Andrew Boyers/PA Wire.

After the now obligatory Zoom meetings with relatives and friends outside of his Covid-19 bubble, Wilder plans to spend his afternoon reviewing footage of Carlo Ancelotti’s side - trying to identify chinks in the armoury of a squad which finished the latest round of Premier League fixtures in fourth.

United have prepared for their 15th assignment of what is proving to be a difficult campaign at the bottom of the table, registering only their second point of the season when they drew with Brighton and Hove Albion last weekend.

Although the rankings make for pretty unpleasant reading, which explains why Wilder, who led United to a ninth placed finish last term, insisted yesterday that he “takes no notice” of the table, the 53-year-old and his coaching staff spotted the first green shoots of recovery at the AMEX Stadium.

Despite being reduced to 10 men when John Lundstram was dismissed just before the end of a goalless first-half, United took the lead when substitute Jayden Bogle marked his top-flight debut with a well taken goal. A spirited display saw them hold out until four minutes from the end, with Danny Welbeck scrambling home Albion’s equaliser. Three days earlier, Wilder’s men had pushed Manchester United hard during an eventful contest in South Yorkshire, which eventually finished 3-2 in the away team’s favour.

“These lads care about the football club, so it doesn’t surprise me that they’re fighting,” Wilder said. “Not when you look at their back stories, where they’ve come from. There’s no white flags coming out and we still believe we can do it, even though everyone is writing us off, because we know what the group is all about.”

“Despite everything that’s going on, we still know we’re in a privileged position as professional footballers,” Wilder added. “It’s tough, a lot tougher in fact, for a lot of other people out there at the moment and we want to try and bring a smile to people’s faces.”

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